The city of Neodesha is small, just 2,800 residents, but it is taking on oil giant BP in court in an effort to win hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for contamination of the city's groundwater with cancer-causing chemicals.
From 1897 to 1970 a petroleum refinery operated in the southeastern Kansas town of Neodesha. The former refinery is owned by BP, formerly Amoco Oil Company, formerly Standard Oil Company. Operations at the facility included crude distillation, catalytic cracking, platinum reforming, and steam generation.
Neodesha now says it wants more than $423 million in damages, less than half of the $1 billion the city sought when it originally filed the lawsuit March 29, 2004 in Wilson County District Court.
The lawsuit alleges that the refinery had poisoned the groundwater and soil and that its managers covered up the pollution to avoid liability.
The city's lawsuit focuses on cleanup efforts at the site, which it says are inadequate, and the harm the pollution has done to property values and city revenues rather than on residents' health problems.